Through six games so far this season, something feels different about Michigan football. After the way last season ended, this year felt like a toss up on how it would play out. To say this team has performed above expectations is an understatement. The Wolverines are 6-0 and while every win hasn’t been perfect, there have been a lot of moments that were pretty spectacular.
To keep the highlight reel to a minimum, I picked five moments that have stuck with me. These five moments are in no particular order, but before we get to them, let’s go through a few honorable mentions.
Boiling down six games worth of moments into five was surely difficult. Take for instance way back in Week 1, when receiver Ronnie Bell had a 76-yard touchdown, which is his only of the season after sustaining a knee injury not long after that play.
There could have been more of those in the highlight reel, but other receivers had to step up. Cornelius Johnson caught an 87-yard pass for a touchdown against NIU that saw Michigan’s football Twitter page trolling their own fanbase for complaining about not passing enough.
Another moment close to being included was David Ojabo’s forced fumble against Nebraska that helped ensure victory in Lincoln.
A final honorable mention goes out to Dax Hill’s hit on Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz, which pretty much ended the Badger’s game in Week 5.
Here are the top five moments of the season thus far.
1. Maize Out against Washington
Week 2 was an electric night game against Washington. Michigan fans flooded the Big House with maize as far as the eye could see and pulled off a near perfect Maize Out. The energy in the stadium was so electric that Washington got called for a delay of game on its first play of the game. Michigan went on to beat the Huskies 38-10, and the iconic views of the stadium under the lights were a perfect illustration of the excitement around Michigan football this season.
2. Flea Flicker TD against Wisconsin
Michigan’s offense, particularly surrounding the passing game, has been cited in the past for its conservatism and questionable play calls. But for the first touchdown of the Wisconsin game, the Wolverines decided to get fancy with a flea flicker that resulted in a touchdown. Cornelius Johnson caught the 34-yard pass in the end zone to put the Wolverines up 7-0 in the first quarter. It was refreshing to see the Wolverines open up their offense and see how comfortable they were doing it. Michigan has been playing a lot more boldly and confidently; hopefully there is still more to see.
3. Hassan Haskins’ hurdle against Nebraska
Late into the fourth quarter against Nebraska, Michigan was driving down the field down by a field goal. Cade McNamara handed it off to Hassan Haskins, who rushed 25 yards before hurdling over a Nebraska defender. After sticking the landing, Haskins went on to rush another 25 yards to get Michigan within scoring range. This moment was both a display of athleticism and resilience to get the yardage. The Wolverines hadn’t trailed in a game until that game, and a play like this was the spark they needed to keep fighting.
4. “Jump Around” and the “stealing of juice” against Wisconsin
Camp Randall is known for its tradition at the end of the third quarter with the playing of “Jump Around,” and the Wolverine sideline was seen getting into it by jumping all over their side of the field. It was Wisconsin’s tradition, but they took it over. Shortly after game play resumed, Wisconsin fumbled the ball and was recovered by Michigan. The team went on to get a field goal, but the sentiment was already laid out. Michigan had gone into a tough road game and taken the wind right out of their opponent’s sails.
5. J.J. McCarthy’s pass against Western Michigan
There probably wasn’t a player that people were more excited to see than five star quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who made his first appearance in the season opener against Western Michigan in Week 1. While he made some freshman mistakes earlier in the game, McCarthy launched what many described as an NFL-caliber throw.
This play saw him scramble and throw across his body to receiver Daylen Baldwin for a 69-yard touchdown. That was the moment that everyone knew that with more refinement, McCarthy has the opportunity to be a star.
With half the regular season completed, there is still a lot of football left for the Michigan Wolverines. In a turnaround that few could have predicted, this team has made their presence known, and hopefully this trajectory continues. Michigan still faces some of their biggest opponents, but that should just be an indicator of more moments to come.